Buying Hand Protection


Let’s talk about gear that you might not automatically associate with Kali: boxing gloves.

Pangamot (empty-hand striking) is a key aspect of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali and required to rank up. We’ll occasionally mix in boxing drills along with our core knife and stick techniques. We’ll be punching focus mitts and elbowing Thai pads. Therefore, I recommend every student have some type of hand protection. The following is a look at the four main types:



Boxing gloves come in several sizes and weights. These are the best for overall hand protection. The cons are that they’re usually the most expensive and don’t simulate empty-hand striking distances because of the added inches to every punch. Still, they’re a great invest for long-term training, especially if you do or plan to train in other systems (kickboxing, Krav Maga, etc.).


  • Great knuckle, wrist, and finger protection
  • Easy to use (if you get the hook-and-loop straps) and to store
  • Good long-term investment; applicable in many martial arts


  • Usually more expensive ($30 to $150)
  • Don’t always simulate realistic punching distances
  • Can’t trap or grab


If you have the money, I’d suggest investing in boxing gloves because they can be used for all sorts of training for a variety of fighting systems. Here are some that I suggest:



As seen in the UFC, mixed martial arts (MMA) gloves offer maximum knuckle protection with minimal amount of bulk. They do come in a variety of sizes, weights, and quality, but all of them are fingerless and come with integrated hook-and-loop wrist wraps.


  • Good knuckle protection
  • Fingerless design lets you trap/grab
  • Easy to use, take off, and store


  • A bit more pricey than the above options ($30 to $100)
  • Incorrect usage can cause finger sprains due to fingerless design


These can be quite pricey just like boxing gloves, so you want to make sure they not only fit you but are right for you and your preferences. If you’re going to buy online, look for sites that’ll let you return or exchange. Here are some to consider:




Relatively new to the world of striking, this type of hand protection combines hand wraps, bag gloves, and gel padding. These fingerless slip-on gloves give you the knuckle protection and wrist support of wraps but the convenience of bag gloves. Some varieties are meant to be worn inside 16-ounce boxing gloves as a substitute for traditional fabric hand wraps.


  • Easy to use, take off, and store (unlike fabric hand wraps)
  • Usually affordable ($20 to $70)
  • Fingerless design lets you trap/grab


  • Limited knuckle protection
  • Incorrect usage can cause finger sprains
  • Questionable long-term durability


I’ve never personally used gel hand wraps (only the traditional fabric hand wraps), so I can’t personally endorse them, but I have heard good things about them from students and friends. If you’re leaning toward this form of hand protection, research the following selections (listed here based on strong reviews):



This type of hand protection is usually a slip-on glove with a thin layer of padding for the knuckles (about 1 inch of foam) and a plastic bar to wrap your fingers around to form a consistent fist. Premium versions are made of leather and have a hook-and-loop wrist wrap to support the wrist during punching.


  • Usually affordable ($15 to $70)
  • Decent knuckle protection
  • Slim to simulate realistic distance when punching
  • Easy to pack


  • Without wraps, no wrist support
  • Limited knuckle padding
  • Least versatile for overall martial arts training


These can be purchased at most sporting goods stores like Big 5, and sometimes even at discount shops like TJ Maxx or Ross Dress for Less. However, the quality can vary quite a bit. Consider the following:


Buying Training Sticks


There are four factors to consider when buying training sticks for Kali:



In Filipino martial arts, including our Pekiti-Tirsia Kali (PTK) system, rattan sticks are used for training. Rattan is similar to bamboo but its stems are solid. This lets them withstand plenty of abuse without transferring kinetic energy to your hands like harder woods might if you continually pound on them. (In the future, we’ll get padded plastic ones for sparring.)



While variations are inevitable and personal preference should be of the utmost importance, generally speaking sticks should have the following dimensions:

  • 1-inch diameter
    26-inch to 28-inch length
  • Unless you’re already familiar with a specific brand, it’s always best to get hands-on with a pair of sticks before putting money down.



Unpeeled rattan sticks usually last longer. Peeled means their skins have been removed and they’ve been decorated for aesthetics. As always with PTK, we always go for function over form, so unpeeled is suggested. Though, keep in mind, with time and/or intense training, both varieties of sticks will eventually start to wear down. (All the more reason to get the tougher unpeeled versions at the outset.)



Online: Amazon and eBay can be hit and miss, so I suggest Century Martial Arts. They have a variety of options and the price is decent for a large franchise.

In Person: I usually suggest going to a brick-and-mortar martial arts store if there’s one in your neighborhood (they’re going extinct, unfortunately). Nothing beats being able to hold the stick in your hand before purchasing it.

Specialty Supply Stores: Go to your local cane/wicker supply store. I’ve never been, but I’ve heard good things about Frank’s Cane and Rush Supply in Huntington Beach, California. Its prices seem to be about 40% cheaper than most martial arts stores.